We've just returned from 4 days in Luang Prabang, Laos' must-see town, only 40 minutes north by plane. This beautiful riverside mountain town is a favourite destination for tourists and expats alike, which explains its local nickname, Meuang Falang (Western town). Declared a UNESCO-heritage town 20 years ago, some say Luang Prabang has lost its soul but the former French colonial town still captivates the imagination. Polished temples and preserved French mansions squat side by side, while tuktuks and bicycles meander down well-swept streets. Tourists with oversized cameras sip coffee in falang cafes and snap photos of the remarkably picturesque town while their subjects, the ubiquitous orange-clothed monks, seem barely aware of their presence.
One of the must-see activities in this must-see town is visiting the markets. There are several main ones - the famous night market that shut off half of the main street, Sisavangvong, in town; the morning market; the evening "meat street" market; and the local Phousi everything-under-one-roof market.
I didn't get a chance to see the morning market; I'll save that for next time but it's definitely the place to come for an assortment of bush meat delicacies, fresh fruit to snack on for the day, and baskets of sticky rice for the monks' alms giving.
The night markets are far more accessible; on every evening and consisting largely of handicrafts - paintings, prints, t-shirts, quilts, cushion covers, clothes, trinkets, lamps, jewellery, carvings, bags, toys, silk scarves, and more. Much of it is from China but some is locally-made and fairtrade. There's bargains to be had and money to be made, and one thing's for sure - you won't leave empty handed.
The market start to set up around 4.30pm which is a great time to start wandering over, especially if you've got young kids in tow. Sellers bring their wares in piled high in tuktuks, motorcycles and hand pushed carts.
Tucked away down side streets is the food with makeshift tables set up on wooden benches. With our tummies rumbling, we went exploring...
And to finish off, here's something for the walk home...